Follow the Leader
September 02, 2004, 10:15 p.m.
Israel and Thailand set an example by arming teachers.
Islamist terrorists in Beslan, Russia, are currently holding hundreds of children hostage, threatening to execute them. No one knows how this horrible situation will end; but we do know that it could have been prevented. Decades ago, Israel adopted a policy that swiftly ended terrorist attacks against schools. Earlier this year, Thailand adopted a similar approach. It is politically incorrect, but it does have the advantage of saving the lives of children and teachers. The policy? Encourage teachers to carry firearms.
Muslim extremists in Thailand’s southern provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, and Pattani have been carrying out a terrorist campaign, seeking to create an Islamic state independent of Thailand, whose population is predominantly Buddhist.
Most teachers are Buddhists, and they have been a key target of the terrorists, who have also perpetrated arsons against dozens of schools.
As reported by the Associated Press (“Thailand allows teachers in restive south to carry guns for protection”) on April 27, 2004, “Interior Minister Bhokin Bhalakula ordered provincial governors to give teachers licenses to buy guns if they want to even though it would mean bringing firearms into the classrooms when the region’s 925 schools reopen May 17 after two months of summer holiday.”
The A.P. article explained: “Pairat Wihakarat, the president of a teachers’ union in the three provinces, said more than 1,700 teachers have already asked for transfers to safer areas. Those who are willing to stay want to carry guns to protect themselves, he said.”
Gun-control laws in Thailand are extremely strict, and are being tightened even more because of three school shootings (perpetrated by students) that took place in a single week in June 2003. Two students were killed.
But though Thailand’s government is extremely hostile to gun ownership in general, it has recognized that teachers ought to be able to safeguard their students and themselves.
Will Thailand’s new strategy work? It did in Israel, as David Schiller detailed in an interview with Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Schiller was born in West Germany and moved to Israel, where he served in the military as a weapons specialist. He later returned to Germany, and was hired as a counterterrorism expert by the Berlin police office, as well as by police forces of other German cities. For a while he worked in the terrorism research office of the RAND Corporation, and for several years he published a German gun magazine.
Schiller recalls that Palestine Liberation Organization attacks on Israeli schools began during Passover 1974. The first attack was aimed at a school in Galilee. When the PLO terrorists found that it was closed because of Passover weekend, they murdered several people in a nearby apartment building.
Then, on May 15, 1974, in Maalot:
Three PLO gunmen, after making their way through the border fence, first shot up a van load full of workers returning from a tobacco factory (incidentally these people happened to be Galilee Arabs, not Jews), then they entered the school compound of Maalot. First they murdered the housekeeper, his wife and one of their kids, then they took a whole group of nearly 100 kids and their teachers hostage. These were staying overnight at the school, as they were on a hiking trip. In the end, the deadline ran out, and the army’s special unit assaulted the building. During the rescue attempt, the gunmen blew their explosive charges and sprayed the kids with machine-gun fire. 25 people died, 66 wounded.
Israel at the time had some strict gun laws, left over from the days of British colonialism, when the British rulers tried to prevent the Jews from owning guns.
After vigorous debate, the government began allowing army reservists to keep their weapons with them. Handgun carry permits were given to any Israeli with a clean record who lived in the most dangerous areas:
Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
All over Israel, guns became pervasive in the schools:
Teachers and kindergarten nurses now started to carry guns, schools were protected by parents (and often grandpas) guarding them in voluntary shifts. No school group went on a hike or trip without armed guards. The Police involved the citizens in a voluntary civil guard project “Mishmar Esrachi,” which even had its own sniper teams. The Army’s Youth Group program, “Gadna”, trained 15 to 16-year-old kids in gun safety and guard procedures and the older high-school boys got involved with the Mishmar Esrachi. During one noted incident, the “Herzliyah Bus massacre” (March ‘78, hijacking of a bus, 37 dead, 76 wounded), these youngsters were involved in the overall security measures in which the whole area between North Tel Aviv and the resort town of Herzlyiah was blocked off, manning roadblocks with the police, guarding schools kindergartens, etc.
After a while, “When the message got around to the PLO groups and a couple infiltration attempts failed, the attacks against schools ceased.”
This is not to say that Palestinian terrorists never target schools. In late May 2002, an Israeli teacher shot a suicide terrorist before he could harm anyone.
On May 31, 2002, as reported by Israel National News, a terrorist threw a grenade and began shooting at a kindergarten in Shavei Shomron. Then, instead of closing in on the children, he abruptly fled the kindergarten and began shooting up the nearby neighborhood. Apparently he realized that the kindergarten was sure to have armed adults, and that he could not stay at the school long enough to make sure he actually murdered someone.
Unfortunately for the terrorist, “David Elbaz, owner of the local mini-market, gave chase and killed him with gunshots. In addition to several grenades and the weapon the terrorist carried on him, security sweeps revealed several explosive devices that he had intended to detonate during the thwarted attack.”
People can spend months and years studying the “root causes” of terrorism, and pondering the merits of the grievances of Islamic terrorists in Malaysia, Israel, and Russia. But it’s fair to say that schoolchildren and teachers are not legitimate targets even of people who have legitimate grievances.
No one knows if civilized nations will ever eliminate the root causes of terrorism. But we do know that terrorist attacks on schools and schoolchildren could be almost completely eliminated in a very short time—if every nation at risk of terrorist attacks on schools began following the lead of Thailand and Israel.
Adults have a duty to protect children. In Beslan at this very moment, seven people are dead, and hundreds more are in deadly peril, because the teachers lacked the tools to stop the evildoers. If we are really serious about gun laws that protect “the children,” then it seems clear that—whatever other gun laws a society adopts—every civilized nation at risk of terrorist attack ought to ensure that armed teachers can protect innocent children.
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April 27, 2004
BANGKOK (Thailand) April 27 - Thailand has given permission to teachers in the violence-wracked Muslim south to carry guns to school to protect themselves, but the defense minister said Tuesday it was a bad idea.
Gen. Chetta Thanajaro told reporters he is willing to deploy four soldiers in every school in southern Thailand and arrange for teachers to be escorted by troops to and from their homes.
“I think there is no need for teachers to carry guns because they have to spend a lot of money to buy guns,” Chetta said, indicating a discord within the government on how to deal with the continuing violence in the south.
On Monday, Interior Minister Bhokin Bhalakula ordered provincial governors to give teachers licenses to buy guns if they want to even though it would mean bringing firearms into the classrooms when the region’s 925 schools reopen May 17 after two months of summer holiday.
More than 70 people have been killed in the three southern provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani this year in attacks blamed on Islamic separatists.
Teachers, who are mostly Thai-speaking Buddhists, have been prime targets of the militants along with monks, policemen and village headmen. Also, dozens of schools, which are usually located away from villages, have been set on fire.
Pairat Wihakarat, the president of a teachers’ union in the three provinces, said more than 1,700 teachers have already asked for transfers to safer areas. Those who are willing to stay want to carry guns to protect themselves, he said.
The three provinces are the only Muslim majority areas in predominantly Buddhist Thailand. Muslims there have long complained of discrimination in jobs and education.
They also say their culture and language are being subjugated by the Buddhist Thais, and cite as an example the state schools, which teach in Thai language. Muslims in the south speak Yawi, a dialect of Malay, spoken in the neighbouring Malaysia.
The alienation caused by the central government’s policies has been the source of a decades old separatist struggle, which had subsided after an amnesty in the late 1980s before exploding this year into a frenzy of violence.
On Tuesday, Somkid Prommin, 44, a government informer, was shot and killed by two men on a motorcycle in Pattani province, said police Maj. Somchit Sawanchathree.
Somkid was shot in his ear, arm, and twice in his body, and died as he was being taken to the hospital, Somchit said.
Earlier Tuesday, a small time bomb exploded in a shelter used by traffic guards in Yala while experts tried to defuse it, but there were no injuries, said police Col. Parinya Khwanmuang.
In a separate attack late Monday, an unidentified gunman shot and wounded a police officer as he drove home from work in the Saiburi district of nearby Pattani province.
IN another development, a letter threatening a “plot” against Thailand’s embassies and ambassadors in Southeast Asia was mailed earlier this month from southern Malaysia, police said Tuesday.
Authorities are convinced the letter, sent 10 days ago to the Thai embassy in the Malaysian capital, is either connected with unrest in Thailand’s Muslim-dominated south, or the deployment of Thai troops to Iraq, said police Lt. Gen. Chalermdej Chompoonut.
The Thai Foreign Ministry had said that the unsigned letter, written in English interspersed with a few words of Malay, said the Pattani Liberation Front had a “plot of some sort” against Thai missions and ambassadors in Malaysia and Singapore.
“I believe the letter was sent because it’s the fashion - as a copycat to cause chaos,” said Chompoonut, who is the commander of the Thai Special Branch Police.
He said the Pattani Liberation Front was not a group listed with international police nor was it known to have carried out any previous attacks in Thailand or Malaysia.
He said Malaysia’s national police chief, Tan Sri Bakri Omar, said a special team has been established to provide security for the Thai embassy, ambassador and other agencies.
“I’ve asked for a copy of the letter and have asked Thai evidence investigators to look at it,” Chompoonut said, adding that Bakri said the threat was mailed from Negeri Sembilan state, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur. - AP
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By Richard Poe
“HOW CAN PRIVATE CITIZENS with guns stop terrorism?”
It is a question I often hear from skeptical radio talk-show hosts - even from many who claim they support gun rights. Inundated as we are with anti-gun propaganda, many well-meaning Americans cannot imagine how guns in private hands might be useful in fighting terror.
The Israelis do not suffer from such confusion. Living with terrorism every day, they know exactly what purpose guns serve. And they are not afraid to use them. We could learn a lot from the Israeli example.
According to a March 7 report in the Washington Times, Israel has issued 60,000 new gun permits to civilians. This will raise the number of guns in the hands of Israeli civilians by at least 25 percent. In a population of roughly 6 million, there are currently 265,000 civilian-owned guns.
“There’s no question that weapons in the hands of the public have prevented acts of terror or stopped them while they were in progress,” stated Police Inspector-General Shlomo Aharonisky. “Chance passers-by have killed terrorists in the midst of gun attacks.”
In 1984, three terrorists opened fire on a Jerusalem crowd with machine guns. Half a dozen shopkeepers and pedestrians drew weapons and returned fire.
One terrorist was shot dead by a jewelry store proprietor. The other two fled and were later captured.
“We didn’t expect to find armed civilians,” one of the gunmen later admitted.
Last week, on March 5, a terrorist opened fire on a wedding party in a Tel Aviv restaurant. When his M-16 jammed, he charged the crowd with a knife. Three people were killed and 31 wounded.
Forty-six-year-old shoe salesman William Hazan was stabbed in the back. He drew a gun and shot the terrorist, wounding him. Police then arrived and finished the job.
In my last column, I noted that U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge opposes arming airline pilots.
“Where do you stop?” he asked in a March 4 interview in USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washdc/2002/03/04/ridge-aviation.htm). If we arm pilots, then railroad engineers and bus drivers will want to arm themselves too, said Ridge.
Evidently, the idea of pistol-packing bus drivers scares some of our leaders. It doesn’t scare the Israelis. “One-third of [Israel’s] 6,000 bus drivers... carry personal weapons to work,” reports the Washington Times.
But what if some trigger-happy civilian accidentally kills the wrong person?
That risk has to be accepted, said a retired police officer, in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.
Won’t looser licensing restrictions make it easier for criminals to get weapons?
“Every criminal who wants a weapon already has one,” said another retired Israeli police officer in a radio interview.
End of argument. In two sentences, the most cherished dogmas of anti-gun groups such as the Brady Campaign and Gun Industry Watch have been dismissed.
The Israelis are not smarter or braver than we are. They are simply more realistic.
Those Americans who still believe they can sit out the war in front of their television sets, waiting for the government to save them, need to pay closer attention to what our government is actually doing.
In the hysteria following the 9-11 attacks, the number of federal air marshals was raised from less than 50 to about 1,000. That’s a hefty increase, but far short of the number needed to guard 35,000 flights per day.
Some pilots have already noticed a cutback in the number of on-flight air marshals, according to the March 5 Washington Post.
Phillip Beal, chairman of the Allied Pilots Association’s cockpit defense committee, cites sources in the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration who told him that they are having trouble retaining new air marshals. “It’s an incredibly boring job, waiting for something to happen,” Beal explains.
The Transportation Security Administration vows it will put more marshals in the air. But Beal points out that putting one marshal on every flight would require a force the size of the U.S. Marine Corps and would cost almost $10 billion.
In short, it’s not going to happen. And even if it did, it would still leave our buses and trains unguarded.
In 1999, 774 million people made long-distance bus trips, and 337 million rode Amtrak and commuter rail lines. Who will guard these passengers? An army of federal bus and train marshals perhaps?
To the Israelis’ credit, anti-gun crusaders such as Rosie O’Donnell and Sarah Brady have made no impact in their country. No one cares what they say. No one listens.
It is time we Americans stopped listening too.
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Editorial Reply From An Israeli Citizen Living In Israel
Israel is Arming its Civilians Why Aren’t We?
The title of this “Subject” is a bit mis-leading. Israeli civilians are already armed, and because we a required to serve in the reserves until the age of at least 45, we have military weapons in our closets along with our personal weapons.
What the Police Chief has advised, is that those who are not already in possession of “Personal” (Not issued by the military/IDF) firearms, should do so. Women (Not me, I’ve carried for 19 years)and men who have until now, not carried personal defence weapons, are being asked to do so. Gun sales are up by 1,200% and they are cutting the taxes on imported firearms. (Great, now we can afford to buy what we really want, and not “what we can afford”)
We have lost all faith in the intervention of our police, so we have become, not “Jumpy” but “Wisely aggressive” in our day to day lives.
This morning I was buying a book in Ramat Ha’Sharon (An upscale shopping area) when I heard gunfire. You should have seen the scene, guns were pulled from the most unlikely of waistbands and ladies purses. The area of where the gunshots occurred was besieged by armed citizens ready to defend their community.
It turned out that it was a dispute between criminals and not a terror attack. The shooter pointed his weapon at a citizen who arrived at the scene and the citizen shot him, several times.
With our politicians being seduced by the Globalists and appeasers, it is more important than ever before that we remain armed. That is what our Police chief has warned about.
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Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
An Exclusive Interview by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
EDITOR’S NOTE: This exclusive interview, copyright © by JPFO, puts to rest the ongoing debate of how to deal with the ever increasing violence and bloodshed in America’s schools, by showing proven solutions (not just theories) to the problem. Rest assured the answer is not in more “gun control”, as the gun prohibitionists would want to brainwash America into believing. In fact, the problem IS gun control.
JPFO: Tell us about your background, and your involvement with firearms, and the right to keep and bear arms.
SCHILLER: The name is Dr. David Th. Schiller, currently residing in the little town of Nassau, 70 km northwest of Frankfurt. I work as editor-in-chief of VISIER, a 168-pages strong general interest gun magazine which I started eleven years ago in Stuttgart and which has now grown to be the most influential and best selling gun magazine in all of Europe. Of course with a gun magazine published in Germany, politics are at the forefront of our editorial work, and we have an eye toward the past. NRA’s Steve Halbrook has been just over here and I was glad to help him with his research on Jewish resistance during WW II.
I was born in (West) Berlin in ‘52 in Germany, moved to Israel in ‘72 and served in the Israel Defense Force’s Airborne, which means I am now a veteran of the ‘73 war, the Lebanese war, and a number of border raids and actions in the occupied territories. Wounded in 1973 on Suez canal, I later studied political science at West Berlin’s Free University and mastered with a thesis on the origins of the Civil War in Lebanon and a Ph.D. in ‘82 with a work on the Palestinians’ “love affair” with terrorism and paramilitary activity. When I returned to Germany in ‘74-‘75 for studies I was called upon by the Berlin Police department to consult and teach their SWAT team, which just came into being after the Munich massacre during the Munich Olympics. Over the years this extended into a whole series of work obligations with various police departments in Germany and other places in the world. Due to my work in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) as a drill instructor and weapons specialist and through my academic interest, I had something to teach to these people. I also worked some years for the terrorism research department of Santa Monica’s RAND Corporation, and have continued my academic pursuits.
Over the years I published a number of books on shooting, police, terrorism, military history etc., most of these under the pseudonym of “Jan Boger”. You probably might find a photographic journal of mine in English on the IDF, called “To Live in the Fire...”, published in 1977 by the John Olson Publishing Co. in New Jersey.
As you can see, I experienced violence and gun control from both ends of the barrel, one might say. And of course, I grew up to be a strong believer in the personal right to self defense, especially as I spent my childhood in the Berlin equivalent of the Bronx.
JPFO: What kind of advice could you give the USA to combat the recent school massacres that seemingly have become quite common upon our soil?
SCHILLER: Now for Jonesboro and the US gun control laws in regard to schools: Way back in 1973 - ‘74 I lived in a Kibbutz in Northern Israel, called Ramat Yochanan. During Passover week in ‘74 we in Galilee experienced the first of a number of specific PLO attacks targeting specifically schools and children houses, kindergartens, school buses and the like. It started with an infiltration in Quiriat Schmoneh on the Passover weekend, where the perpetrators found the school empty and locked (of course during the holidays!) and took over a nearby residential building, shooting people and in the end blowing themselves up. A few weeks later the worst of this series of incidents took place in Maalot on May 15th: Three PLO gunmen, after making their way through the border fence, first shot up a van load full of workers returning from a tobacco factory (incidentally these people happened to be Galilee Arabs, not Jews), then they entered the school compound of Maalot. First they murdered the housekeeper, his wife and one of their kids, then they took a whole group of nearly 100 kids and their teachers hostage. These were staying overnight at the school, as they were on a hiking trip. In the end, the deadline ran out, and the army’s special unit assaulted the building. During the rescue attempt, the gunmen blew their explosive charges and sprayed the kids with machine-gun fire. 25 people died, 66 wounded.
After this a controversial debate erupted in Israel in regards to guns, self defense etc. We heard of course the same dumb arguments by some good people, you always hear on these occasions like “ We do not live in the Wild West here!” Or: “Guns don’t solve problems!” or similar silly things.
JPFO: Were there any gun laws in Israel in those days?
SCHILLER: Now, one has to remember, that Israel still had and has most of the old and very strict gun laws dating back to the days of the British Mandatory (1918-1948) on the books, and we in the promised land have meanwhile grown our share of idiotic bureaucrats and dumb politicians, too. But with the help of some smart people, not the least the then Commander-in-Chief, Northern Command Paratroop General Raful Eytan, all the reservists on the settlements were issued their personal weapons, and whoever had a clean track record could get a concealed weapons permit. I for instance had and still have one.
JPFO: What happened then?
SCHILLER: Teachers and kindergarten nurses now started to carry guns, schools were protected by parents (and often grandpas) guarding them in voluntary shifts. No school group went on a hike or trip without armed guards. The Police involved the citizens in a voluntary civil guard project “Mishmar Esrachi”, which even had its own sniper teams. The Army’s Youth Group program, “Gadna”, trained15 - 16 year old kids in gun safety and guard procedures and the older high school boys got involved with the Mishmar Esrachi. During one noted incident, the “Herzliyah Bus massacre” (March ‘78, hijacking of a bus, 37 dead, 76 wounded), these youngsters were involved in the overall security measures in which the whole area between North Tel Aviv and the resort town of Herzlyiah was blocked off, manning roadblocks with the police, guarding schools kindergartens etc.
No problems with gun safety there, as most kids in Israel grow up used to seeing guns on the street (in the hands of army personnel on leave—every soldier takes his/her gun home when on leave!). When the message got around to the PLO groups and a couple infiltration attempts failed, the attacks against schools ceased. Too much of a risk here: Terrorists and other evildoers don’t like risks.
But what does all that teach us?
(A) schools/kindergartens make for very attractive targets for the deranged gunman as well as for the profit-oriented hostage gangsters or terrorist group, because:
(1) everybody sane will cave in to the demands of the evildoers (even somebody as hard-nosed as Golda Meir, may she rest in peace, said during the Maalot incident, that one does not make politics on the backs of one’s children). Nobody wants to play the principles-game when kids are involved. Kidnapping has thus often resulted in the paying of ransom demands.
(2) if you crave media attention, as for instance the PLO did in the 70’s, nothing will catch the headlines better than an attack on a school-full of kids.
(B) Now THAT is the underlying “reason” behind each and every incident that involved killing sprees in schools... from Maalot to Dunblane to Jonesboro. Only recently the French had a hostage/barricade incident in a kindergarten: the guy wanted money, and the French authorities solved that problem very neatly with a stealth-type approach by one of their special teams and a .357 bullet in the head of the perpetrator, when he refused to surrender. No follow up imitations occurred in France.
JPFO: Were there any similar incidents in Germany?
SCHILLER: Germany has some of the strictest gun laws this side of Britain and Japan And needless to say, they are a continuation of the Nazi Gun Laws, even using the same wording.
Still, we have a multitude of illegal guns on the streets. Currently the police estimates that there a ten million legal, licensed guns and 20 million illegal—in a total population of less than 80 million people! And we had our school massacres, too: In the early 60’s one incident took place in Cologne involving a deranged person who, not having access to guns, built himself a flame-thrower. In another incident a few years ago in the vicinity of Frankfurt, another crazy individual shot his way through a school with two handguns, and later committed suicide.
Also, prior to the Lockerbie plane bombing (which was only one item in a whole spree of planned and coordinated terror attacks luckily foiled by the authorities), German security services detected in September ‘88, that a Palestinian splinter group had made plans for a raid on the Jewish kindergarten in Munich. We found the photos, ground plans etc. Apparently the planning of the attack was pretty far along.
So you do not have to be a prophet to foresee, that we will see more school-shooting incidents in the U.S. or other western nations, where media attention is focused on these things and where every incident is replayed second by second umpteen times on the tube, thereby creating in the minds of certain viewers examples to follow...
Now, can we stop the media from playing out these scenarios in full color and gruesome details for hours and hours, again and again? Certainly not. We in the terrorism research field have argued for decades that it was exactly the media coverage that spurred more and each time more violent and extreme terrorist incidents. Could we stop the media from advertising the terrorist message? Certainly not.
That is apparently one price we have to pay living in a worldwide infotainment society. The airplane hijackings in the 70’s and 80’s are a case in point.
The only thing we can do is protect possible victims...And laws written in some books will not achieve that. Never have, never will...Enough said. I rest my case.
JPFO: How can our readers and members contact you?
SCHILLER: Our e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org or my mailing address:
Dr. David Th. Schiller - VISIER, P.O.Box 1363, D-56373, Nassau, Germany
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml